Pro Football Focus releases the top five graded players from each team after every single NFL game. Here’s what PFF had to say about the Philadelphia Eagles following their Week 16 win over the Oakland Raiders.
Top 5 Grades:
S Malcolm Jenkins, 86.1 overall grade
LB Nigel Bradham, 86.0 overall grade
Edge Chris Long, 83.7 overall grade
S Rodney McLeod, 83.0 overall grade
G Brandon Brooks, 82.3 overall grade
The Eagles ask a lot of Jenkins. In addition to playing safety on the back end, they also use him as a quasi-linebacker and slot cornerback. Jenk’s importance to the defense can’t be understated.
On the evening, Jenkins was targeted two times and yielded just one reception for four yards. Jenkins added four tackles and two stops in run defense as his forced fumbled, and subsequent recovery in the fourth quarter was a pivotal play and helped pace the Eagles in their strong defensive outing.
Here’s a look at that HUGE forced fumble/fumble recovery by No. 27.
Thanks to a terrible interception thrown by Nick Foles, the Raiders were at 1st-and-10 from the Eagles’ 24-yard line at the time of that fumble. Jalen Richard had picked up eight yards on that run, too, so if he hadn’t lost the ball it would have been 2nd-and-2 from the 16. Incredibly clutch play by Jenkins.
Jenkins, who was named to the Pro Bowl last week, ranks 19th out of 88 safeties this season.
Bradham led the Eagles in tackles with eight (six solo). Bradham hasn’t graded out great in run defense this season but he ranks among the best cover linebackers in the NFL.
Jenkins wasn’t the clutch defender for Philly. Long’s strip-sack (pictured on top of this article) killed a Raiders drive right near the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Shot 7 - The sack-fumble by Chris Long came with the #Eagles in 'Cover 1 Robber' with Rodney McLeod taking away in-breaking routes and Patrick Robinson playing with outside leverage to take away anything towards the sideline. I believe this play started a few plays earlier tho... pic.twitter.com/WZtDdDNPZR— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 26, 2017
Of course, it’d be better if Long didn’t run away from the ball next time! At least he knows he made a mistake and apologized for it.
Rushing from his defensive end position, Long produced eight total pressures against Oakland as he finished with a sack, three QB hits and four QB hurries. Long disturbed Raiders QB Derek Carr’s timing all game long and was arguably the most impactful player on the Eagles defense.
The Eagles have three players ranked in the top 30 edge rushers: Brandon Graham at seven, Vinny Curry at 22, and Long at 30. Rookie defensive end Derek Barnett is 55 out of 111. It’s a pretty good group.
As Fran Duffy highlighted above, McLeod’s coverage did have a role in Long being able to strip-sack Derek Carr.
Still, I’m kind of surprised to see McLeod on this list. It felt like he was responsible giving up some big plays, as he has numerous times this season. On the play where Jalen Mills gave up a touchdown on the Amari Cooper’s sluggo route, Jim Schwartz even admitted the Eagles “didn't have great safety play on that play.”
McLeod ranks 42nd out of 88 safeties in 2017.
Brooks continued his Pro Bowl season with another strong outing. Brooks still hasn’t allowed a single sack in 596 pass blocking snaps. He ranks third out of 80 guards this year.
PFF gave a shoutout to Jason Kelce for another good performance.
Widely regarded as a Pro Bowl snub, the Eagles center put in another solid effort against the Raiders. He didn’t allow a single pressure in pass protection on a night where Nick Foles was under duress on 13 occassions. The offense struggled to get the run game rolling, only averaging 3.7 yards per attempt on 21 carries but Kelce was effective in his role leading to a 77.9 run-block grade.
Shot 6 - #Eagles finished the drive with a screen pass to Jay Ajayi. Great athleticism from Kelce / Warmack to get out in front and create this lane for a score #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/WxsJdis0eM— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 27, 2017
Kelce did have some issues snapping the ball, but Foles also just dropped some of his snaps. Those two need to work on that moving forward.
Shot 2 - One common theme also was the mishandled snaps. Some on Foles, some on Kelce, but they threw off the timing of a number of pass plays and got the QB off schedule early in the down #Eagles pic.twitter.com/cVEekNb7IO— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 27, 2017
Darby was targeted four times in the Eagles-Raiders game. He only allowed two receptions for 13 yards. Oh, and he had a pretty clutch interception.
Shot 9 - Ronald Darby came up with the play of the day on his INT vs the #Raiders. But what I love most about it I think is how reminiscent it was of the slant route he gave up for a TD last week vs NYG. Great job by Darby cutting off this route for a pick #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/UiiDHAIzco— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 26, 2017
Schwartz also praised Darby for his efforts in run defense.
Two plays he made on wide receiver screens I think were more impressive plays [than the interception]. He was one-on-one, and they had a blocker out in front of him, an offensive lineman, and he was able to get that guy on the ground both times. If he doesn't play those plays as well as he played, we might give up touchdowns on both of those. That probably went below the radar a little bit because he intercepted that ball in the end and gave us a chance to win, but those plays were every bit as important in keeping that score down and keeping us in the game.
Really nice bounce-back game from Darby after he struggled against the Giants. The Eagles corner ranks 35th out of 121 corners.
In his first extended playing time with the Eagles, Ellerbe received a graded that would have him ranked 60th out of 103 linebackers this year. He didn’t look super fast running sideline-to-sideline, but he did make a nice down-hill run stop.
Foles was terrible on Monday night.
QB Nick Foles, 34.2 overall grade - It was a tough night to say the least for the Eagles back up quarterback as his troubles started early when he threw what should have been a pick-six the other way to Reggie Nelson. He then struggled with timing and accuracy throughout most the rest of the game. His numbers were bleak while under pressure, finishing 4-of-12 passing for only 33 yards and an interception. Foles also had accuracy issues down the field as he was only 1-of-11 for 15 yards on passes that traveled over 10 yards in the air.
Foles was bad. Real bad. Was so slow at making decisions & got stuck on his first read too often. He was late on so many timing throws too like this one. The ball is just late. Gotta be thrown earlier. pic.twitter.com/t42DkXZGTk— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2017
Foles should have been pick 6 was another example of locking on 1 read. When he knew he had man cov, he was always going to Ertz. S had good leverage, Foles could have moved on. Smith free deep (may not have been a progression but still). pic.twitter.com/Uj4Ej4SPQe— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2017
Foles finished as the second worst ranked QB of the week (only behind T.J. Yates) by Football Outsiders. His overall PFF grade would put him 37th out of 41 quarterbacks this season. Only Trevor Siemian, DeShone Kizer, Brock Osweiler, and Blaine Gabbert rank below him. Yuck.